Dan Primerano's love for woodworking is a passion he carries in his veins. The son of a furniture maker from eastern New York, he can barely remember a time when wood did not occupy his hands or imagination.
As a child, Dan hovered about his father's shop and accompanied him on wood-buying expeditions. At a very early age, through his father's customers, he recognized an appreciation for custom-built furniture and a distinction between commerically, mass-produced furniture and the personal, one-of-a-kind pieces created by his father.
By the age of 10 he was using his father's tools. At 17, he was apprenticed in a shop his father was employed at in Sherman, Conn., building church interiors and residential cabinets and furniture. After a stint as a furniture draftsman for a New York state factory, Dan delved into another aspect of woodworking as an independent logger for a large hardwood sawmill on the East Coast.|
| ||Selecting, milling and drying his own wood for furniture making has been a preoccupation ever since. Today, his shop is filled and surrounded by a vast inventory of lumber. Piles of chestnut, live oak, California myrtle, elm, douglas fir, and walnut are neatly stacked outside in sheds, under tarps, and in containers. Wood samples line the walls of his shop.|
|"I purchase lumber from local dealers or small sawmills and land owners both for the particular job and for inventory, and I maintain anywhere from 15-20 thousand board feet of lumber. I prefer to purchase whole trees and supervise milling and drying myself, which enables me to give somebody something special and unique because an entire piece of furniture can be built from the same log for a consistent color and figure. This can have a profound effect on some pieces."|
Dan returned to furniture making and cabinetry in 1985, when he opened his own shop and began doing custom work. In 1993, he decided to pull up his roots, leaving behind the place where he was born and raised, and head to California.
"I knew there that there was a deep appreciation for custom woodwork in California, and I was also motivated by the fact that the Krenov school was close by, at College of the Redwoods in Fort Bragg." Dan lists James Krenov and Edward Barnsley as some of his major influences, along with the arts and crafts, and Japanese and Chinese styles.
"Through reading various publications, I was very much aware that there was a history on the West Coast of real appreciation for the craftsman designer. On the East Coast, people are stuck to some degree on the New England antique and early American styles, and I always felt constrained working with that type of reproduction work. California seemed like a real opportunity to find more freedom to explore some other influences and skills like Krenov, Barnsley, and Scandinavian furniture design. The West Coast has a newness and an adventurousness that has affected woodworking and the design community." So in 1994, Dan relocated his entire shop and his 15-year inventory of lumber to an idyllic spot in the ancient redwoods next to the Eel River in the small town of Redway in Northern California.
|Dan creates mostly one-of-a-kind custom furniture and cabinetry, though he does do some speculative work. "I'll work with a client to design a piece for them that fulfills their desire. We'll go over various styles, possibilities, and woods and come up with a design that meets their functional and stylistic needs as well as both of our aesthetic desires."|
| ||Dan's discussion with his client includes choice of wood species and construction details, and a variety of finishes from laquer to varnish, oil and wax, and shellac. "No one finish fits all. To go through the effort to design and build a unique piece of furniture and then to put the wrong finish on it can really destroy it. Every wood and grain type responds differently to different finishes." Dan uses exotic woods sparingly - for accents and inlay, using sustainably harvested species when available.|
|"My main goal is that every time a person walks into the room, the piece of furniture will feel fresh and new even though its something they've lived with for years. I'd like to see that the quality and care that went into designing and making it - of which they were a part - enhances their life."|| |